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United States Department of Commerce
Office of General Counsel

Welcome to the Office of the General Counsel of the Department of Commerce. The General Counsel is the chief legal officer for the Department and legal advisor to the Secretary, Secretarial Officers, and other officers of the Department, including heads of operating units.

Hoover Bldg. Flag The General Counsel, assisted by a Deputy General Counsel, provides direction to 14 different legal offices. He directs the operations of ten offices that report directly to him, including three Assistant General Counsels and seven Chief Counsels. The former provide legal advice and services to all officers and bureaus of the Department across organizational lines on matters under their responsibility. Six of the Chief Counsels provide programmatic legal support to offices in specific bureaus, while the seventh Chief Counsel administers a special program that provides commercial law assistance to foreign officials and private sector persons in support of economic development goals. The General Counsel provides legal and policy direction to four additional legal offices, which receive their funding and personnel allocations from their bureaus.

Office DescriptionCommerce  Lobby
The Office of the General Counsel has a diverse legal practice, based on the wide variety of issues in which the Department of Commerce is involved. Commerce attorneys supervise the development of the Department’s legislative and regulatory programs, defend decisions of Commerce officials against judicial challenge, and advise agency officials on personnel, procurement and budget matters. They represent the Department in labor-management proceedings and are responsible for interpreting Federal ethics laws and general administrative laws. Commerce attorneys assist the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in carrying out U.S. ocean, coastal and atmospheric protection and research programs. They resolve legal issues concerning the collection and dissemination of economic and technical information for the Economic and Statistics Administration, including the Census Bureau and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Commerce attorneys help the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to implement U.S. telecommunications policy. They work with the International Trade Administration to ensure the effective implementation of the U.S. import relief laws, such as antidumping and countervailing duty laws. They work on programs to enable American business to compete more effectively in world markets through efforts to lower trade barriers and to develop sound commercial legal systems.

Commerce lawyers assist the Patent and Trademark Office by interpreting U.S. laws that protect trademarks and invention. They work with the Bureau of Industry & Security to enforce laws that control exports for reasons of national security, foreign policy and non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. They advise the Economic Development Administration, which provides grants to distressed areas to stimulate their economies. Commerce attorneys aid the Minority Business Development Agency in implementing national programs to assist minority businesses.


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